Tennesseans are struggling to recover from one of the worst winter storms in memory as schools remain closed in many counties, thousands are still without power and state officials work to make funding available for repairs.
Emergency response officials say chain saw crews with members of the Tennessee National Guard and several state agencies were working Monday to clear downed trees across the Cumberland Plateau. Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) officials said Humvee teams were checking on the welfare of residents in the more rural areas. The storm and frigid temperatures have already killed 22 people across the state, nine of them caused by hypothermia —including one in Moore County.
TEMA officials said about 34,000 customers remained without power and East Tennessee could get up to 2 inches more snow by Tuesday.
Officials with the Duck River Electric Membership Corp. (DREMC), which services Lynchburg, Shelbyville and five other districts, were bracing for yet another round of wintery weather set to impact portions of southern Middle Tennessee overnight Tuesday and into Wednesday.
Three winter storms —Octavia, Pandora and Quantum — have impacted parts of the South with snow and ice in the span of about a week. Now, a fourth system is expected to reach northern Alabama and parts of Tennessee by midweek.
Highs were expected to be in the upper 30s to lower 40s this week, with lows hovering in the mid-2os. That could bring some mixed precipitation to an area that’s simply trying to recover from a deluge of winter weather unlike any in the last decade.
Moore County schools were out again on Monday after a sheet of freezing rain overnight Sunday left most back roads in this largely rural community extremely slick. It marked the fifth straight day that schools were out due to the weather and Director of Schools Chad Moorehead said via his Facebook page, “I appreciate everyone’s patience this morning regarding the school closing information.”
Patience may be required moving forward as well. Despite a warming trend near the end of this week — possible 50-degree temps and rain by the weekend — the National Weather Service office in Huntsville, Ala., issued a Hazardous Weather Outlook statement on Monday.
According to the report, snow is expected to develop in North Alabama and southern Middle Tennessee by late Wednesday morning. The snow was expected to continue through the afternoon on Wednesday, with some accumulations possible into Wednesday evening.
This came on the heels of the previous three systems, all while DREMC crews were trying to regroup following a long, hard week of work.
By Saturday following last week’s storms, Duck River Electric Membership Corp. (DREMC) line crews had reduced the number of members affected by power outages from the week’s second ice storm to 861 from a high of more than 4,200.
Fallen trees and tree debris began causing outages after midnight, but system damage increased when strong winds on the backside of the weather system started to gust.
The system impacts included broken poles and cross-arms, trees and limbs that crashed through circuits or hung in power lines, and substation breakers that operated due to down-line damage.
DREMC linemen were out in force, as outage reports started to come in between 3 and 4 a.m. after a night of snow, sleet and freezing rain.
At 1:45 p.m. Saturday, co-op members still without power in the Manchester district totaled 708; Shelbyville, 121; Columbia, 29; Lewisburg, 2; and Lynchburg, 1.
In a report from DREMC, officials said that when repairs to primary and secondary lines were completed, linemen would turn to reconnecting service lines to houses. However, some members might not see their electric service restored until Sunday if meter bases and poles have been damaged.
—Associated Press writer Sheila Burke in Nashville contributed to this story